When I watch a program about places such as the Vatican, Saint Peter’s Basilica, the Pantheon, how Rome was built as well as places like Saint Mark’s Square or the Doge’s Palace, I certainly appreciate the grandeur, the beauty and the history. I am taken aback by the power and wealth that built them. I marvel at the engineering that went into these places so long ago. I am amazed that despite being 2000 years old, their ideas are the basis for structures still today despite all of our advances. And there it ends. It leaves me cold. I don’t think about it much after that. It isn’t what dominates my dreams.
On the other hand, last year I watched a special filmed in the (what was) forgotten town of Matera, I watched the slow reincarnation of this ancient town by some of its young inhabitants whose ancestors once lived in these cave dwellings. I have watched women in the Umbria region walking through a field picking the tiny Saffron flower. I watched a woman work a loom hundreds of years old, the same loom her ancestors used. I watched artisans repairing mosaic pieces from local churches in the Oltrarno neighborhood of Florence, one tiny piece by tiny piece. I watched a proprietor cut huge pieces of beef, cook each one himself and serve it with such pride in his tiny dining room. These things made me feel. They move me. They speak to me. They create a warmth in my soul. They make me misty eyed. They make me have to experience Italy.
I mentioned in my last post that I am feeling a bit unprepared for my trip, despite my having had a very long time to prepare. I am an experienced traveler as my friend Deb pointed out, so why am I feeling like this? Why do I feel like I am not ready, and unorganized?
I think in part it is because the trip has taken so many turns since its inception I have been all over the place so to speak, in what to do and where to go. I’ve had a list of places to visit, that I would need months to actually get to . I needed to make myself focus on exactly where I am going, along with taking into account, my fellow travel companions and what they want to do.
Considering the cost of airfare, it seemed that to only travel to Venice for a week wouldn’t be cost effective. Why not include another stop as well and make it a 2 week trip? But where to go? Of course the Big Three are Rome, Florence and Venice. But I started looking at other locations like Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast, Sicily, Salerno, and The Italian Riviera. I was all over the map until common sense, logistics and cost won out and it was decided that the Big Three would be the perfect trip. However, I really wasn’t too excited about Rome. It seemed so spread out, so busy, so much traffic, but I would concede to the idea ‘It would be silly to go to Italy and not see Rome.’ I had a feeling that Florence would be more my style but, the real interest for me was of course Venice.
The Boys and I have had some discussion as we don’t all 3 necessarily want to do all the same things. Which of course, is fine. I have always said that we can do different things on our trip and we’ll meet up at some point during the day. We are after all, 3 people with 3 individual interests. Think of how much more we can cover should we actually go in 3 separate directions? We will of course do many things together and have a great time doing so and create many memories. I can’t wait to make mistakes together and then laugh about them at the end of the day over a glass of wine. I remember getting in the elevator and not pushing any buttons when in New York with my friend Sandy. We were too busy laughing about something, got in the elevator with some people, they got off and we stood there wondering why we weren’t moving. We realized we had not pushed any buttons. More laughing at our being so silly! I can’t wait to share with The Boys my excitement for this country that I feel so very passionate about.
I have been consistent from the get go in that seeing major historical sight after sight has not been my priority. While I understand the rich history of Italy is an intricate part of the country, I would much rather explore the cities on my own. I’m sure I will see plenty of history that way. I can listen to guidebooks on my tablet as I walk the streets. We all agree on this to a point, but I think I am the least interested in the number of sights to see of the 3 of us.
I want to return many times to Italy but there is of course, no guarantee of that. Because of how I feel about this place, how it has seeped into my soul, I cannot fathom going and not experiencing the real Italy. I simply cannot spend the bulk of my time inside of, albeit magnificent, churches, basilicas, museums etc. I can’t imagine myself rushing from one place to the next trying to fit it all in. I can’t imagine the trip being all about the buildings that I saw. I just cannot. If this is my one and only chance to get to Italy, it has to be to fulfill this long dream and it has to involve the things that touch me so deeply. It has to.
Why is that so hard for people to understand?